Hitting out at the Indira Gandhi-led Congress government which had imposed Emergency on this day 40 years ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday described it as India’s “darkest period” when the then political leadership “trampled over our democracy.”
Speaking at the launch of three of his government’s flagship urban mission programmes — developing 100 smart cities, rejuvenating 500 cities and Housing for All — Modi said: “Forty years ago, the country was bound with chains of emergency and turned into a jail for the lust for power. Lakhs of patriots nursing the dream of Sampoorna Kranti under the leadership of socialist ideologue Jai Prakash Narayan were jailed. Newspaper offices were locked and the radio aired only what the government then wanted.”
The then Congress government led by PM Indira Gandhi had declared Emergency on June 25, 1975 and it continued till March 21, 1977. The period was marked by massive restraints on civil liberties, mass arrest of opposition leaders and a severe blow to press freedom.
PM Modi said that a vibrant liberal democracy is the key to progress. “We are proud of the lakhs of people who resisted the Emergency and whose efforts ensured that our democratic fabric is preserved.” The PM said the Emergency was a “great opportunity” to work with a wide spectrum of leaders and organisations fighting for “return of democracy.”
On the cabinet’s decision to set up a national memorial for Jai Prakash Narayan, Modi said the memorial will be an inspiration and guiding light for democracy lovers and citizens of the country.
Meanwhile, BJP chief Amit Shah said the possibility of emergency can’t be ruled out as long as parties run by dynasty can rule the country. Speaking at a function in Delhi he said: “If you vote for an individual, Emergency will come yet again. If you vote for an ideology and a party, then Emergency will never come.”